Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The naked fan boy

I'm an Apple fan, and I am the proud owner of both a Mac book pro and an iPhone 3G. I've always been quite happy to admit that I am a "fanboy" of Apple products.

It turns out though that I didn't actually know what a "fanboy" is.

My understanding of what a fanboy is, is rather mundane: It's simply a person who is a fan of a product or brand or even a personality.

My friend however has a different view, his view of what a fanboy is seems rather more suited to someone who is a member of Al-Qaeda.

Now much as I like Apple I'm not blowing myself up because someone happens to criticise the new iPod.

So in order to reduce my ignorance I consulted that completely reliable source of truth: Wikipedia to find out more about what a fanboy is. This is what I found:

"Fanboy is a term originating in the United States[citation needed], used to describe a male who is highly devoted and biased in opinion towards a single subject or hobby within a given field. The earliest known recorded use is dated 1919.[5]"

The key phrases here are "highly devoted" and "biased".

Kinda strong words for something that should be as black and white as a technology choice.

The fact is though that if you step back and look at the whole IT scene and apply this definition you can't help but feel that us computer geeks are nothing much but a whole bunch of fanboys. Here is a short non exhaustive list of some of the fanboy debates I've been privy to during my time as a computer geek:
  • AMD vs Intel.
  • ATI vs NVidia.
  • 3Dfx vs NVidia.
  • .Net vs Java.
  • C++ vs Java.
  • [for brevity's sake: Insert your language of preference here] vs Java.
  • RISC vs CISC.
  • Linux vs BSD.
  • Linux vs Windows.
  • OS2 Warp vs Windows 95.
  • Xbox vs Playstation.
  • Microsoft vs Open Source.
  • OSX vs Windows.
What really amazes me though is how the same person who can explain to you the nuances of Lisp on the one hand, can then on the other hand scream bloody murder because you bought product X instead of Y and that makes you an idiot because product Y is clearly 5 attoseconds faster than product X and unlike product X, product Y's maker does not sacrifice little children in order to gain market share.

And we're supposed to be that smart guys....

I guess it's perhaps a reflection of our passion, by in large technology people are very passionate about what they do and have a strong belief in the importance of what they do, after all; no other profession has caused as a dramatic a change in the last few decades to the way the world works as we have.

Of course it's perhaps also indicative of the fact that when it's all said and done, Computer geeks are just as driven by emotion as the rest of humanity.

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